For the crowd in Moscow on Thursday there was no question about who is the best man to lead Russia. These were Putin’s supporters, who have no truck with the opposition’s claims and want a strong leader to guide Russia for the next six years.
For them continuity and stability are worth fighting for rather than the uncertain vision offered by Russia’s reformists and liberals.
“I’m here so that our country succeeds and we can continue to win, so that our children can grow up in peace and safety,” said the former ice-skating world and Olympic champion Irina Rodnina.
Other less famous people agreed. One marcher told euronews: “We want to live in peace in a rich and prosperous peaceful country. That’s only possible with a strong president and a strong team.”
Others just seemed to be enjoying the national holiday. “We’ve come to support Vladimir Putin for our happiness, our future, and out country. Come with us!” roared one high-spirited man.
Putin chose National Patriot Day to hold this, his biggest election rally so far, and it seemed a wise choice as the occasion fitted his campaign message – ‘Trust me, I’m a safe pair of hands, I saved the situation once before and I can do it again’.
For many though Putin is now the problem even if for the crowd that turned out on Thursday he can do no wrong.
“Nearly all of the presidential candidates chose this public holiday to stage rallies, but the biggest was without a doubt the one held in Lujniki Stadium by Vladimir Putin’s supporters,” said euronews’ man in Moscow Alexander Sashkov.